Study Hall

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Church Sound: Selecting The Right Headworn Microphone

They aren't all the same in fit, functionality, frequency response or even wireless pack compatibility...

LIME GREEN! That’s crazy, right? Headworn mics are usually available in four common colors; beige, black, tan, brown. However, you can find them in lime green, pink, “transparent,” and various shades of tan for better matching skin tone.

Standing Or Jumping Jacks?
Usage is a consideration when selecting the right microphone. And since we’re talking about usage by pastors, not aerobics instructors, I’ll present this simple idea: the more active (animated) the pastor, the more you might want to consider the full wrap-around style. I’ve seen the single-ear mics stay in place when the pastor was walking around on stage, as it should.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Cost – This isn’t A Jazzercise Class
What’s your budget? These mics run the price gamut—$100, $200, $700… even under $30. Peavey offers the PV-1 for $27.99. Is that what I’d recommend? No, not for a pastor. The lower the price, the bigger the head gear and microphone.

Personally, I find the large mics distracting. If a drummer wants to use one, that’s OK. For that matter, if a jazzercise instructor needs one, great. If your job involves asking “Do you want fries with that,” then size doesn’t matter.

The price is determined by more than just the size. The quality, durability, moisture-resistance, and frequency response all go into the price.

Here’s a small sampling of mic prices:

Countryman H6 – $680

DPA d:fine – $620

RODE HS-1 – $480

Samson SE50T – $250

Shure MX153 – $249

Plugs & Cables
Be aware the mic wire plug, for connecting to the wireless pack, can use a variety of plug types. Some headworn mics include adapters as all packs don’t use the same plug style. Note that some mics only work with specific wireless packs. For example, the Sony ECM-322BC only works with the Sony WL-800 series bodypacks.

Other options include detachable mic cables. Cable plugs wear out and hey, why replace the whole headworn mic when a cable replacement would be cheaper?

Important Tip
Using a headworn mic is more than just putting it on and talking. The mic should be adjusted so it’s about an inch away from the mouth, set slightly back of the mouth. It’s a little easier to explain it like this; if you can hear the person breathing between words, the mic needs to move back.

Time for the important tip:

Show the pastor how to adjust the microphone – important when it’s not on right and the congregation hears it rubbing skin or a beard. A simple little adjustment is all it takes.

The Take Away
A handheld microphone fits most any hand, but a headworn mic is not comfortable for everyone, and they certainly aren’t all built the same.

Work with the pastor to pick one they find comfortable. It takes time to get used to using one, that’s part of it as well. Select the right color. And do your research into the various headworn microphones that fit the budget so the pastor will be using the best sounding microphone.

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I’ll leave you with this last reminder: select the right mic for the pastor and then work on EQ’ing their voice so not only are they heard, they’re understood. There is a difference.

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians, and can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown. Chris is also the author of Audio Essentials For Church Sound, available here.

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Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence worldwide, Audio-Technica is a leading innovator in transducer technology, renowned for the design and manufacture of microphones, wireless microphones, headphones, mixers, and electronics for the audio industry.

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